Glorious music, dancing and staging make Goodman Theatre’s Brigadoon revival, running now through Aug. 17, 2014, a perfect summer show while also explaining why the town's miracle was necessary.
First, there are the instantly recognizable songs: “I’ll Go Home with Bonnie Jean,” “Come to Me, Bend to Me,” “The Heather on the Hill” and “Almost Like Being in Love.” Alan Jay Lerner’s lyrics and Frederick Loewe’s music are beautifully sung by Jordon Brown as groom Charlie Dalrymple, Kevin Earley as the already engaged American Tommy Albright who falls for Scottish lass Fiona MacLaren (Jennie Sophia.)
And after seeing Maggie Portman in the “can’t say no” role of Meg Brockie, it will be hard to imagine anyone else playing the part of the saucy but luckless maiden.
Of course with director/choreographer Rachel Rockwell at the helm, you know the dances will be show pieces. Rockwell, working with Gordon Peirce Schmidt and Katie Spelman, uses dance to tell stories and explain emotions, such as the interpretive piece of “bonnie” Jean MacLaren (Olivia Renteria) just before her wedding.
Next, is Kevin Depinet's innovative settings of sparingly creative backdrops and his amazing transition to a sophisticated American club scene.
Then, there is the why "Brigadoon." Frequent fodder of musical theaters since written in 1947, "Brigadoon may seem like an unlikely show for Goodman, known for its “The Iceman Cometh” productions and new interpretations such as last season’s “Measure for Measure.” However, it also did May Zimmerman’s highly creative “The White Snake” this season and Zimmerman’s “The Jungle Book” last season. So you know there has to be more to the story behind “Brigadoon.”
The word is that Goodman wanted to do a show with Rachel Rockwell. The director/choreographer was already talking to Liza Lerner, Alan Jay Lerner daughter, about a revision. In addition, it was thought that “Brigadoon” needed to be explained in context of the bloody battles taking place in Scotland in the 1700s between “Highlanders” and “Lowlanders” and threats of erasing the Celtic Highland culture.
Brian Hill (“Story of My Life” Drama Desk Award nomination) took on the revision. The concepts of true love and escaping the artificial in life are still present. But now there are more definitive references to why the Brigadoon miracle of disappearance and return one day in each century was necessary to preserve the village’s population and culture. It also includes head-shaking wonder about the outside world - has it changed or do some cultures/groups still want to eradicate others.
Details: “Brigadoon” is at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, IL 60601, now through Aug. 17, 2014. For more information visit Goodman Theatre and call 312-443-3800.